Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Is Virat going soft?

Recent ads featuring Virat Kohli show a hitherto unknown side of the cricketer
What comes to your mind when I say Virat Kohli? Champion, competitor, intense, aggressive, in your face, loud, brash... You could reel off these adjectives and for most part, you wouldn’t be off the mark. The overriding impression, in my mind at least, would be of unbridled aggression.
In fact, Rahul Dravid, who is the quintessential well-behaved cricketer, said in a recent interview that some of the things that Kohli says before a series makes him cringe!
Whilst Rahul Dravid may might have effectively signed himself off any major coaching assignment with the BCCI with this statement, it raised my own estimation of him for speaking his mind and echoing the sentiments of people like me. But what’s all this got to do with Virat’s alleged softness?
The king of celebrities
Virat is not only the undisputed number 1 in One-Day batting rankings, but he is also one of the richest sportsmen in the world, as per the latest Forbes list. So he’s clearly a hot celebrity endorsing a whole range of brands, including the tremendous Puma deal.
Yet, most celebrity advertising is similar looking as it focuses on the celebrities, their demeanour and achievements. Using Virat’s example, a usual ad would show him celebrating, shaking a triumphant fist or smashing the ball over the ropes as despairing fielders watch helplessly. No one is really sure whether this advertising and the celebrity, who is so highly paid, is actually helping the brand, given the number of ads and brands the same celebrity endorses.
So how does one break the clutter? The answer, as always, lies in the script: the often ignored component in celebrity commercials. Can we show a new dimension of the celebrity rather than the clich├ęd, similar ships-that-pass-me-in-the-night visuals? Yes, we can. How? By showing a side to the celebrity — Virat, in this case — that was hitherto unknown. The following commercials demonstrate this.
Are you a younger sibling?
If you are a younger sibling like me, you know what it is to be ignored, to be taunted and be asked to get lost by your elder brother or sister, as they carry on with their secretive business! Although the situation itself is not new, one can easily relate to this commercial.
In this ad, the game begins with the picking of teams. And guess who is left out? The youngest kid in the block. As the older kids speak to him derisively, Virat solicitously asks him whether he would want to open the batting for his team. And in a surprise twist, the kid belts out runs all around the park.
The new improved Virat
The commercial that really caught my fancy, however, is the one that shows Virat in a completely new light. In this, he is wearing a kurta, and talks about common themes that you and I can relate to. He says how he does nothing on Sundays and just as he is about to take off in his car, he is called for a game of cricket by kids who, cheekily, ask whether they should give him batting.
Mostly, the commercial shows Virat’s softer side as he talks about traffic jams and playing antakshari with his family.
Do they? Don’t they?
The romance-rumours of Anushka and Virat have been doing the rounds for years now. Now, there are rumours of their intended wedding!
This commercial is set in an actual wedding, and has Virat and Anushka decked in traditional clothes. Looking at the couple tying the knot, they discuss what the bride and bridegroom might be promising each other. The commercial actually ends on a sentimental note.
Interesting, more so for a brand like Manyavar.
Celebrity endorsements often end up as double edged swords, as the commercials are so eminently forgettable. Which is why script writers must strive that much more to beat the clutter and explore new avenues like the personal lives and emotions of celebrities rather than use their exploits to catch our fancy. Yes, perhaps there is another side to Virat Kohli that I did not know existed. And I like it.
Do you?

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